Weblog: What do you mean the Wi-Fi doesn't work? The life of a Racing Post reporter
So close to perfection
Hard luck Aintree. So nearly a perfect day, only for things to go slightly awry at the last.
The pressure was on this afternoon, with the first races over the modified Grand National fences since the tragic events of last April.
Interest in what happened was enough to draw men from the Observer and the Telegraph away from Sandown to join those more often seen in these parts.
The track obviously didn't want any more disasters. But nor did they want every horse to sail over the fences as though they were croquet hoops and make it look like the place had gone soft.
So they must have been chuffed to see three fallers in the Becher - all at modified fences, ironically - and one in the Grand Sefton, with no hint of any injuries. Perfect.
Until Aidan Coleman was called in for his use of the whip on the Sefton winner and banned for seven days - the latest blow on a track where Jason Maguire's excessive encouragement of National winner Ballabriggs last April is widely seen to have stoked the sentiment behind the controversial new whip rules.
Very rare double for Coleman as he'd fallen at Becher's earlier in the day so he was uniquely placed to judge the affect of the alterations to the fences and he was adamant that they had not changed the character of the track.
Lovely press room at Aintree, except that it is permanently 4.56 according to the only clock in the place.
Which is very disconcerting when you are hard at it, glance up and see that it is just four minutes until deadline time.
New development this afternoon was the playing of a fanfare as each winner returned to the parade ring. A nice touch, though slightly surreal in the earlier, lesser races - there were precisely zero members of the public around the winner's enclosure as the music blared out to welcome back Featherbed Lane.
Another sign of Aintree getting into the 21st century was a double-page spread in the racecard of 'announcements' taken from the track's Facebook fans.
They included Christmas, birthday and anniversary wishes and a memorial for one man who is now 'at rest alongside Red Rum.'
I do hope that is not the literal truth - allowing racegoers to be buried next to the three-time Grand National winner by the finishing line is not conducive to producing a decent racing surface.